The Beckley Foundation Policy Programme


in Policy

Over the last 15 years, the Beckley Foundation has been at the forefront of initiating policy reform with the aim of minimising the harms caused both by drugs themselves and by the collateral damage caused by current prohibitionist drug-control policies, which put money and power in the hands of criminals.

Visit our dedicated global initiative for drug policy reform website at

The Cannabis Commission and the Global Initiative

The Beckley Foundation has organised nine very influential international seminars, mainly held at the House of Lords. The most recent seminar, co-hosted with the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Drug Policy Reform in November 2011, saw the launch of the Beckley Foundation’s Global Initiative for Drug Policy Reform.

Two important reports were commissioned by the Beckley Foundation and discussed at the meeting: i) Roadmap to Reforming the UN Drug Conventions, and ii) A Cost-Benefit Analysis of a Regulated and Taxed Cannabis Market in the UK and Wales.

Beckley Public Letter

To coincide with the launch of the Global Initiative, the Beckley Foundation published a Public Letter in The Times and the Guardian calling for a global rethink on drug policy. The Letter declares the War on Drugs a failure, and calls on Governments and Parliaments to find new ways to minimise harms, and to explore new policies based on scientific evidence. The Letter was signed by over 60 leading world figures, including seven former presidents (among them Jimmy Carter), twelve Nobel Laureates and key personalities from the worlds of politics and diplomacy, academia, the Arts and business.

Guatemalan initiative

Recently, Latin American leaders, particularly those from Central America, have started speaking out against the current failed approach to drugs, which affects them disproportionately. Central America is sandwiched between the large drug producers in the south and the world’s foremost consumer, the USA.

The most vocal advocate of reform is President Otto Pérez Molina of Guatemala, who has called for dialogue based around drug regulation. President Pérez Molina invited Amanda to visit Guatemala in April 2012 to discuss drug policy. He invited her to return in July to set up the Beckley Foundation Latin American Chapter in Guatemala. At the launch ceremony, the President also became the first incumbent Head of State to sign the Beckley Public Letter.

The Beckley Foundation Guatemala is preparing reports to inform the President and the Government about the effects of the current policies, and to develop a sophisticated range of alternative policy responses  which the President has stated should include regulation aimed at reducing violence and corruption in Guatemala and the wider region.

Reforming the UN Drug Concentions

Drug policies all over the world are based upon the provisions of the UN Conventions of 1961, 1971 and 1988, which outlawed production, trade and possession of certain controlled substances (other than for very limited scientific and medical uses), including those derived from coca, opium poppy and cannabis. The UN Conventions have had devastating unintended consequences.

The Beckley Foundation commissioned a report entitled Roadmap to Reforming the UN Drug Conventions, which more comprehensively spells out how the Conventions could be reformed to allow for: i) clear and explicit decriminalisation of the possession and use of one or more controlled substances; ii) the creation of a strictly regulated legal market in one or more such substances. The report, led by Professor Robin Room, documents the legal process for achieving reform while respecting the rights of countries that wish to retain their existing drug policies.

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